Psalms 68:29-30, 33-35, 35-36
Many years ago I was attending a Indian dance on a reservation. The nephew of a family I knew very well was to dance for the very first time one evening, an event which is very special for a family and for the individual who is to dance. After his dance I gave the young boy a gift. He hugged me and began crying! I looked towards his mom and she said very gently that he was a rather emotional kid and was really happy that I had honored him with a gift.
Throughout the Sacred Scriptures we encounter tears. In today’s reading Jesus, the Good Shepherd, looks up to heaven and prays. He prays about how he has guarded the sheep and implores the Father to guard us still. The scriptures remind us that Jesus was no stranger to tears for he wept for his friend Lazarus, for Jerusalem and for his coming passion. He also consoled those who wept, such as the penitent woman.
In the reading from Acts Paul tells his congregation that he was often brought to tears in his imploring them to stay on the path and not be deceived by false shepherds. Paul, the shepherd of this flock at Ephesus, is entrusting its care to the elders as he prepares to continue his journey. The author of Acts tells us that the crowd began to weep without restraint. What a wonderful image!
It is said of Ignatius of Loyola that he had the gift of tears and that he wept while presiding at the liturgy and while in prayer.
Tears can be all-purpose, suitable for happy and sad times. Indeed throughout Lent, Holy Week, and Easter itself, tears are appropriate and a blessing—tears of sorrow and repentance for our sins, tears of compassion at the suffering of Jesus, tears of loss at the empty tomb and tears of joy at the vision of the Risen Lord.
Perhaps I was caught off guard by that wonderful young man who on that special day cried without restraint in joy and gratitude.
Easter reminds us that there are many kinds of tears in our lives, those of sorry and those of happiness. Easter also assures us that our grief will be transformed to joy and that our tears of joy will eventually outweigh and wash away our tears of sorrow.
A few weeks ago I visited the family of this young man who is now a college graduate. His parents showed me photographs of his high school graduation. There he was in one of the pictures hugging one of his teachers and clearly crying in joy at the occasion! I cried at my happy memory of first meeting him and at his success in school, albeit discreetly!
May our tears of sorrow be turned to tears of joy through the resurrection
of Christ and may we never be afraid or ashamed to shed our tears for they
are truly blessings!
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